Inside the Head of a Performer V: The Warm-Up – Part 2

Inside the Head of a Performer V: The Warm-Up – Part 2

I was up last in the line-up. The four people who went before intermission got a rousing round of applause. Then all four of them left and took their friends. And the girl who went first out of the intermission flatlined the crowd like Kevin Bacon and Keifer Sutherland would have. The next two performers tried to drag them back, but it was an uphill climb. And this is what I walked (or stumbled) into.

Vijai introduced me and I jumped onto the stage and probably didn’t almost fall, but it wasn’t graceful. This was approximately when I thought “Oh shit, I shouldn’t have had that fourth beer.” Throughout the set, I could feel myself slur some words more than I likely otherwise would have, but even then I knew it wasn’t too bad. Anyway…

I opened with a line about Vijai selling sex without actually having it and asked to applaud her marketing department. “And by marketing department… I mean tits.” I didn’t feel comfortable saying “tits” and I wish I’d have said breasts. But the show must go on. I was given ten minutes of stage time and I would likely go over by a minute or two, but I knew it wasn’t a problem since I was last and we still had some time. I opened with a few one liners to try to predispose the crowd to a stand-up type of atmosphere to get a more honest reaction out of my story, which I knew was not going to be a real litmus test. But it’s the best I could do on this night to try to get the most relevant reaction I could.

See, I am trying a storytelling-proven bit in front of Aries Spears next Friday and wanted as honest a reaction as possible about whether this would convert to stand-up or not. But the truth is that I was giving a crowd predisposed to storytelling what they like. Oh well.
After opening with the Vijai stuff, I went into my Jared joke. The joke is that I wanted to get engaged, so I went to Jared. Then he sold me a Subway gift card. The premise is the bait and switch from the jewelry store to the guy from Subway. But as soon as I told everyone that I got engaged “so I did what they told me to on TV… I went to Jared,” the crowd laughed so hard at the reference that they didn’t even bother to get the punchline. That was disappointing, but a good indication that it may not be the time to try this joke in front of 1,500 people, despite the fact that I was actually engaged and it would be the best time to try it.

Next, I told a joke about being engaged and lasting through one entire football season and how “if you have a boyfriend who doesn’t like football, then he’s obviously gay and isn’t this a shitty way to fine out.” This got more groans than I had planned for, but I’m keeping it in there, though I’m a little nervous about having it so near the top of my set. See, I want to make sure just not to offend people with my set this Friday. My jokes are funny enough not to get heckled for lack of humor, but if I cross the line into offensive, I stand the risk of losing them, or at least one of them who wants to publicly display his or her displeasure.

Then I tried a bit about needing to end things with Logic because I got engaged. I knew this wasn’t going to work and I was right. This was an easy chop.

Then into the story I went. I’ve told it tons of times before and the modifications were so minor that I was able to pretty much coast through the rest of the show. I got the reaction I would hope to get from the Aries Spears crowd. There were some small parts I realized I should condense, but I felt comfortable with the bit for the most part by the end of the show. I’ll have to see how it goes over next Sunday at Hightopps to really get a gauge of whether or not it’s suitable material for that crowd.

After that bit, I ended with a bit that I really want to do on Friday despite the fact that I’ve never tried it on stage before. It’s about homophobia and I want it to be my piece that people leave the Opera House thinking “why didn’t I think of that before?” I admittedly rushed it, but it still went over very well. It was condensed to about 2 minutes and I think I’m going to keep it that way. It got two big laughs exactly where I thought it would. I don’t know if it’s the piece I want to end with, but if it gets a big enough laugh and I’m hovering around 12-13 minutes, I may just cut my set short to go out with a bang.

All in all, this was a decent experiment if I wanted to get some self-esteem going into the Aries Spears show. But what I really wanted to know is whether or not I can make this bit work in front of a stand-up crowd. On one hand, I don’t know that I really got that feedback. On the other hand, I’m now big time enough that Fan-Freakin-Tastic, the show that used to be my biggest show of the year – was now a practice show that I barely got nervous for. This is a little scary. It’s almost like I’m getting to be a professional.

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